“The Suicide Squad” (Rated C)
Cast: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Viola Davis, Sylvester Stallone
Genre: Action/Adventure, Comedy
Where to watch: In theaters/ HBO Max
Is the “The” the answer?
The new film “The Suicide Squad” is here.
But you may recall there was also a movie simply named “Suicide Squad” back in 2016. Note the absence of the word “The” from that title.
And while that previous film was “not bad”, it is so out of the league of the new picture, that it leads one to wonder if “The” is a magic word.
Can adding this simple article of speech make that much of a difference?
Could this year’s truly awful “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” actually have been watchable had it been named “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” instead?
Surely it can’t be that simple.
Some of the actors from the “sans-The” edition are back and playing the very same characters from the world of DC Entertainment they previously portrayed. But this 2021 version is not a sequel. It’s a refresh/reboot/redo. A “do-over”, essentially.
Again, I honestly liked the previous film, and felt it was a good starting point on which to build a new franchise. But it certainly wasn’t perfect, and squandered some of its potential on a terribly goofy core storyline involving a witch, of all things.
In my 2016 review, I wrote: “A do-over is in order. And I’m looking forward to it – something real, something relatable, something sexier. I’d love to see how these zany freaks would handle a rogue nation or a terrorist organization. It would be like “Mission: Impossible” – but with personality. With these talented actors, that would be something worth watching. And something we haven’t seen in a burgeoning franchise since “Guardians of the Galaxy”.
Clearly, somebody owes me a check.
The “do-over” I referred to was me hoping to see these characters in a mature and sensible setting for the inevitable “sequel”. We did get “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” last year featuring Margot Robbie as the 2016 flick’s most memorable character. It was a decent step in the right direction. But “The Suicide Squad” is whole other magnitude greater.
And mentioning “Guardians of the Galaxy” was quite fortuitous. Warner Bros. went out and got Mr. Guardians of the Galaxy himself, James Gunn, who wrote and directed that excellent 2014 film and its 2017 sequel.
And “rogue nation” and “terrorist organization”? In the new version, the government sends the most dangerous supervillains in the world – Bloodsport, Peacemaker, King Shark, Harley Quinn and others – to the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese. Armed with high-tech weapons, they trek through the dangerous jungle on a search-and-destroy mission, with only Col. Rick Flag on the ground to make them behave.
In lieu of a writing credit, I will settle for the fact that my wishes have come true.
“The Suicide Squad” is definitely and extremely not for kids. Don’t let them fool you into thinking “it’s based on a comic book, so it can’t be that bad”. Plenty adults will be gasping at the sights of two hours and 13 minutes of the most shockingly gory and gruesome images you’ll see on the big screen this year. Every single way you could think of killing a person is included here (and many that you would never dream of as well!)
But the cast and acting and humor are all top notch. Idris Elba as Bloodsport (ostensibly to replace Will Smith as Deadshot) and John Cena as Peacemaker are welcome and fantastic additions.
The character King Shark –who seemingly serves as the DC equivalent to Marvel’s Groot from “Guardians of the Galaxy” – is an hilarious scene stealer. That’s Sylvester Stallone (as opposed to Vin Diesel as Groot), and King Shark is just as memorable as his tree counterpart – perhaps even more.
There are many other wild characters. With names like Ratcatcher and Polka-Dot Man, you can imagine just how insane it gets. But the film manages to explore some of the reasons they came to be who they are.
Along with Robbie, returning from the previous film are Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, and the always-amazing Viola Davis as the “determined” Amanda Waller.
There’s so much to like about “The Suicide Squad”. It feels like it would be even more enjoyable with multiple viewings. And I actually can’t wait to see more – definitely with this same cast, and most definitely with Gunn at the helm again.
It’s possibly the best film to feature DC characters in many, many years. And yes, that includes Wonder Woman! And this is the most Marvel-like DC flick ever – which is a very good thing.
If you loved the more PG-13 “Guardians of the Galaxy”, but also the very raunchy “Deadpool” and “Deadpool 2”, then “The Suicide Squad” will be the kind of wacky, crazy, adult fun you’d very much enjoy.
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email email@example.com and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.